Sunday, October 13, 2019

HR 4552 Introduced – TWICs for Veterans

Last month Rep. Babin (R,TX) introduced HR 4552, the Honorably Discharged Transportation Worker Identification Credential Act of 2019. The bill would require DHS to establish a program for issuing honorably discharged veterans an interim Transportation Workers Identification Credential (TWIC) pending the normal processing of a TWIC application.


The bill would amend 46 USC 70105 by adding a new subsection (r), Provisional Security Cards. The amendment would require DHS to establish provisional transportation security cards (PTSC). Such cards would “be used during the beginning on the date a covered veteran applies for a transportation security card issued under subsection (b) and ending on the date on which such card is issued or denied to such veteran” {new §70105(r)(1)}. The PTSC would “authorize such covered veterans to have access to secure areas in the same manner as transportation security cards issued under subsection (b)” {new §70105(r)(1)}.

A ‘covered veteran’ would be a person who {new §70105(r)(3)}:

Served in the active military, naval, or air service, and who was discharged or released there from under honorable conditions; and
During such service was subjected to a rigorous security screening

DHS would be allowed, in consultation with DOD and the Department of Veterans Affairs, “prescribe a time period following discharge or separation from service in the Armed Forces during which an individual may be considered a covered veteran” {new §70105(r)(4)}.

Moving Forward

Babin is not a member of the House Homeland Security Committee to which this bill was assigned for consideration. This means that the bill is unlikely to be considered in Committee. I do not see anything in this bill which would engender any organized opposition to the bill if it were considered.

This bill could be offered as an amendment to a DHS spending bill or authorization bill (if either is actually considered with an amendment process this session).


As a 15-year Army veteran I appreciate the thought behind this bill. Giving veterans assistance in their post service job search process is an admirable effort and should be encouraged. However, there are some serious problems with this rather simplistic bill.

First, providing someone a PTSC who has no chance of getting a TWIC is a sure recipe for creating a number of security issues at facilities where the possession of a TWIC is a prerequisite for unaccompanied access. There is a way to avoid most of these potential problems by requiring a covered veteran applicant to certify that their record contains none of the TWIC disqualifying offenses listed in §70105(c)(1). I would amend the bill by inserting a new paragraph (4):

(4) The Secretary will require applicants wishing to receive a PTSC to certify that they have none of the disqualifying actions described in (c)(1) in their record.

This will not eliminate all of the potential security issues, but it will significantly reduce them.

The remaining issues will have to be addressed by regulations and processes subsequently put in place by DHS. The immediate problem is whether or not the PTSC will include a biometric identification component or whether it would be just a visual inspection access control tool. If it does not include machine-readable biometric identification data then it will not provide access ‘in the same manner as transportation security cards issued under subsection (b)’. Providing for issuing a PTSC with machine-readable biometric data on demand at each TWIC application facility will be expensive.

This leads to the next problem overlooked by this bill. The Transportation Security Administration is currently required §70105(h) to charge each applicant for a TWIC a fee to cover the cost of processing the application. That should mean that veterans requesting a PTSC should be charged an additional fee for those credentials. Given the relatively small number of veterans that would be expected to apply for PTSC, this fee could be relatively high because of the additional equipment and training necessary to issue such documents. I think that this is counter to the intent of this bill, so I would further amend the bill by inserting a new paragraph (5):

(5) Notwithstanding the requirements of (h) in this section, the Secretary will not charge applicants any additional fees for the issuance of a PTSC.

Finally, there are no time requirements in the bill, either for initiation or termination of the program; or for feedback to Congress of the efficacy of the program. To address these issues, I would insert the following two paragraphs:

(6) The Secretary will begin issuing the PTSC described in (1) within one year of the passage of this bill. The PTSC program will terminate on the date five years from the passage of this bill.

(7) Within one year of start of issuance of PTSC, the Secretary will provide a report to Congress describing:

(A) The number of TWIC applicants who were issued a PTSC;

(B) The number of TWIC applicants who were provided a PTSC, but were subsequently denied a TWIC;

(C) The average length of time that individuals were required to rely on a PTSC for access under this section;

(D) The costs associated with the establishment and operation of the PTSC program and the fees that would have been required to be assed against applicants in the program for the first year to cover said costs;

(E) The fee which would be required going forward to be assessed for the issuance of a PTSC to cover costs of the continued operation of the program.

No comments:

/* Use this with templates/template-twocol.html */